Human Rights on the Agenda at the 4th EU-Israel Association Committee
April 14, 2005
In response to a letter sent by the Arab Association for Human Rights (HRA), Michael Ray, director of the Israel desk at the European Commission, said that the Commission has asked that the issue of minorities in Israel be included on the agenda of the 4th EU-Israel Association Committee to be held Thursday, April 14, 2005 in Jerusalem.
The meeting of high-level officials, chaired by the European Commission with the support of the EU Presidency and Council Secretariat, will focus on preparations for implementing the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) Action Plan for Israel, and will include deciding priorities for the next twelve
months. Topics that will be covered at the meeting include dialogue on the Middle East Peace Process, anti-Semitism, combating terrorism, Common Foreign and Security Policy issues, and trade and services liberalization.
In the letter, the HRA demanded that minority and human rights be made one of the foremost priorities during the implementation of the ENP Action Plan and be put on the agenda at the upcoming meeting. It recommended that steps be taken to monitor and ensure that Israel is following through on its contractual commitments to “promote and protect the rights of minorities” through consultation with local human rights non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and civil society actors.
Mr. Ray’s response also stated that the European Commission “shall take careful note” of comments in the letter as well as those of other international bodies involved in human rights monitoring.
Over the past few years, the HRA has closely followed the development of relations between the EU and Israel. The organisation has a long history of cooperation with the European community having been a member of the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Network (EMHRN) and participated in the launching of the EMHRN December 2004 Human Rights Review on the EU and Israel. The HRA’s General Director, Mohammad Zeidan, was recently elected to the board of the Euro-Mediterranean NGO platform in Luxembourg.